Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog

Friday, February 7, 2014

For a Memorable Valentine's Day,
Try These Outstanding Champagnes

Jay McInerney observed in the Wall St. Journal recently that the British regard champagne as a necessity, rather than a luxury

As might be expected, Winston Churchill was less tactful. "I cannot live without champagne," he once said.

Most of Britain continues to concur. More champagne is sold there than in any other country outside France. That includes the U.S., whose population is about five times larger than the U.K.

So what do the British know about champagne that Americans don't? For one thing, they're more knowledgeable about a wider range of first-rate producers. These include the historic French houses of Pommery, Pol Roger and Bollinger.

Not one to disagree with the man who also said, "I am easily satisfied with the very best," The Luxurist proposes a few memorable bottles that are worth seeking out.

(Or for ease, just click on the links and they will be whisked to your residence in no time at all.)

Let us start with Bollinger. It's a family run house with a long tradition dating back to 1829.  "Bollinger's appeal is unmistakable: It's rich and powerful and Pinot Noir-heavy—the Château Latour of Champagnes," McInerney opined.

"Bollinger's Special Cuvée is one of the biggest non-vintage champagnes on the market, and the complex La Grande Année is really a food wine more than it is an aperitif." For a notable Valentine's Day, the Grande Année Rose is the way to go.

Bollinger's richness and particular quality is often attributed to it's fermentation in wooden barrels, some more than 100 years old and kept in shape by a full-time cooper. The Luxurist believes it is the only house producing champagne in this manner.

The Luxurist notes that James Bond often quaffed Bollinger in both Ian Fleming's novels and movies made from them.

Also Read: Sweets, Hearts, And Other Valentine's Day Confections

Pol Roger is another tradition-steeped family owned operation. Founded in 1845, it is known for its vintage champagnes, which McInerney rightly states "merit comparison with the best.". Right now 2002 Pol Roger Vintage Brut is available at a very reasonable under $100 price. Also try the non-vintage Pol Roger Brut.

You might find you will enjoy Pol Roger more than the usual champagnes Americans are used to drinking. Churchill certainly did; it was his favorite.

But if you must have Veuve, then The Luxurist recommends you opt for their rose, which is more highly rated than the Yellow Label and, take it from The Luxurist, absolutely delicious.

Finally, McInerney notes that "champagnes likes these really deserve to be drunk year round."

The Luxurist certainly subscribes to that philosophy. In fact, he's heading to his cellar now to make his champagne selections for tonight's dinner.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweets, Hearts, And Other Valentine's Day Confections

Giving chocolates to your sweetie on Valentine's Day may be banal, but, like guilt, it usually works. The trick is to seek out an elegant offering from one of the more distinctive choclatiers.

Valentine's Day Gifts from England's Charbonnel et Walker...

The British confectioner Charbonel et Walker is little known in the U.S. In England it's considered top shelf, as it holds a Royal Warrant to the Queen of England, and has for more than a century.

You will find two Charbonel et Walker offerings at Neiman-Marcus, including a Milk Chocolate Vintage Red Heart ($65) and a 16-piece assortment of "Vintage" Chocolates ($39) charmingly presented in a box covered in Charbonnel et Walker's original floral print paper.

...and from Vosges (left) and Bissinger's.

Neiman's also has stocked the Vosges Exotic Carmel Collection ($74), 36 butter caramels infused with exotic flavors. They are packaged in a sophisticated, round pink and purple four-tiered gift box. Vosges is the fashionable maker of fine candies from Chicago. It has become better known in recent years after opening stylish boutiques in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and New York.

Also Read: Memorable Valentine's Day Champagnes

Finally, Neiman's has astutely elected to offer Bissinger's Signature Heart Box Chocolates at the very attractive price of $40. Don't know Bissinger's? You should. It has been producing quality confections in St. Louis since 1927.

When it comes to Valentine's Day gifts, if you cannot be original, then at least show some class. It will not go unnoticed, which, of course, is the point of plying your loved one with bon-bons in the first place.